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Freezer Burn [Mass Market Paperback]

Joe R. Lansdale
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 1 2000
Bill's not overly bright, has no visible means of support, and lives with his dead mom whose social security checks will stop coming if anyone else finds out. What's a good son to do in a situation like this? Stick up the firecracker stand across the street with two buddies, naturally. But only Bill makes it out of the holdup alive, beaten down by exhaustion, exposure, and thousands of mosquito bites from the neck up. Rescued from certain doom by a traveling freak show, Bill exploits his hideous new looks to evade police. And he won't stand out too much among the dogmen, hermaphrodites, and the mysterious frozen man whose mute, sinister aura seems to tie them all together.

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From Publishers Weekly

Professional loser Bill Roberts's mother has died, and if he buries her he'll lose her pension checks, which he's also afraid to cash. Out of money and food, he joins two idiot friends and concocts a robbery of a neighboring firecracker stand. They botch the job and flee into the swamps, where Bill escapes, his face so swollen with mosquito bites that John Frost, manager of a traveling carnival and freak show, takes him in. Frost is married to the gorgeous, blonde Gidget, a virtual sex-machine and the most desirable woman Bill has ever seen. Bill is soon immersed in a world of freaks, where he makes friends with Conrad the Wonder Dog and U.S. Grant, the bearded lady, and quickly becomes embroiled with Gidget in a Double Indemnity-style plot to kill Frost and take over the business. Lansdale outdoes himself in rendering sophomoric sexual fantasy and graphic, stomach-turning passages of lurid behavior. There's also an inordinate amount of concern with penile size, bouncing breasts and tiny jeans shorts. As protagonist, Bill is not as much a hero as victim of circumstance, a man who "everywhere he turned is socked by the mallet of stupidity." But at the story's climax, Lansdale reveals Bill to be a true sucker, and unfortunately, readers may not be sympathetic to or appreciative of his folly. The details of East Texas swamps and forests seem on target, although the humor often misfires with overloaded similes and strained attempts to be outrageous. Still, this a page-turner suitable for bus or beach and for anyone with a predilection for tacky raunchiness and a yen for what teenagers call "gross-outs." (Sept.) FYI: Lansdale is the winner of the British Fantasy Award, the American Horror Award and five Bram Stoker Awards from the Horror Writers of America. He has written or edited 31 books, including 16 novels.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

While not dumber than a fence post, Bill Roberts is not noticeably smarter either. When his mother dies abruptly, Bill douses her remains with cologne, swathes the whole in plastic bags, and hopes that he can continue to cash her social security checks. His next brainstorm involves recruiting two buddies to rob a fireworks stand. During the holdup and its aftermath, the storeowner is shot, one of the accomplices gets a Roman candle lodged in his brain, and the other is bitten to death by water moccasins. Bill ends up as part of a traveling freak show, where he gets acquainted with a pair of African American Siamese twins, the Dog Man, and the Ice Man, a shadowy presence and the show's star attraction. This menagerie is presided over by a benevolent beardless Santa Claus whose curvaceous wife uses her manifold charms to persuade Bill that they ought to murder her husband. The irrepressible Lansdale (Rumble Tumble) continues to amuse and astonish with his outrageous storytelling. Definitely not for the squeamish, but highly recommended for those who enjoy the worm in their mezcal.ABob Lunn, Kansas City P.L., MO
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Bill Roberts decided to rob the firecracker stand on account he didn't have a job and not a nickel's worth of money and his mother was dead and kind of freeze-dried in her bedroom. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A HILARIOUS NOVEL ABOUT ADULTERY AND MURDER!!! Oct. 22 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
First, let me talk for a moment about the writings of Joe R. Lansdale. I'm now totally addicted to this remarkable East Texas author. I think his novel, THE BOTTOMS, is one of the true masterpieces of modern American literature. I love the "Hap/Leonard" series and could read a new novel about these two hilarious and utterly heroic characters every week, if Mr. Lansdale could write the books fast enough. I've read his novellas THE BOAR and THE BIG BLOW and have wondered why a mainstream publisher didn't pick up these two great little books. I've also read his children's story, SOMETHING LUMBER THIS WAY COMES. So far, I've enjoyed every piece of writing by him that I have read. FREEZER BURN is no exception. Though certainly different from the above books, it nevertheless is pure Lansdale at his best. This is the story of Bill Roberts, a low life who simply doesn't know any better. He's been living with his dominating mother for a long time, and when she finally dies, he decides to keep her body in the bedroom so that her social security checks will continue to come in. The only problem with the plan is that Bill is unable to successfully forge her signature on the checks. So, with a handful of checks he's unable to cash, a raucous smell permeating the house, and a couple of cans of beets in the kitchen cabinet left to eat, Bill makes the less-than-lucid decision to rob the firecracker stand across the street on the fourth of July with the help of two equally stupid acquaintances, Fat Boy and Chaplin. Like everything else in Bill's life, the robbery goes terribly wrong. The owner of the firecracker stand is murdered and then Fat Boy (he encounters a nest of water moccasins in the swamp!!!!) and Chaplin are killed in the getaway. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lansdale retells 'Freaks' as a comic roman noir. Oct. 22 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Bill Roberts is a laconic and none to smart loser that decides to rob a firecracker stand just across the street because his mother is now dead and stinking up the place and he cannot get the nerve up to forge her social security checks to get the money, which he is just about out of. With two cohorts helping him out, the robbery goes well for about two seconds. Then things go south in a hurry. Four corpses later, poor Bill stumbles out of the swamp and into a traveling carnival Freakshow run by a kind hearted man with a hand growing out of his chest and his femme fatale wife. Hoping to hide out until things cool down in the real world, Bill takes a job there and waits for the proper angles to present themselves. Gidget, the blonde bombshell wife of the show's owner, has some plans of her own as well as some very nice angles to get them done.
Freezer Burn is largely a retelling of the film 'Freaks' as a comedic roman noir. Chock full of unsavory characters that view humane behavior as stupid and weak, this is certainly not a novel for all tastes. Longtime Lansdale fans will be delighted to see him brush up on his darker roots, the ones responsible for The Nightrunners and the black as tar noir nightmare The Night They Skipped the Horror Show. Others used to the trace of nobility found in his most recent work will wonder why he wasted his time telling the tale of such an unlikable sociopath anti-hero. Being a nearly twenty year Lansdale addict I heartily recommend to his longtime fans as well as to those who just like dark hearted noir with a goofball twist.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very Odd Mixture, But Ultimately Vintage Lansdale Jan. 29 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I wasn't sure what to think of _Freezer Burn_ when I started it. The characters were just a bit too wild to really register.
Then, about the time the protagonist, Bill, realizes that he's starting to have unusual feelings (love, friendship) for Conrad the Wonder Dog, and Frost, the leader of a small freakshow he's hooked up with following a botched robbery, I realized that I was starting to feel all warm inside, too.
It takes a great writer to create a character like Bill--someone you'd normally cross the street to avoid--and make you care about what happens to him. I know that other reviewers didn't feel the same way, but I was right there, rooting for the poor guy the whole way.
If anything, the downbeat, noirish finale, which I should have seen coming, came as a bit of a surprise, even though we've all seen this a thousand times before (think _Double Indemnity_ or _Body Heat_).
Heck, I would have been happy just following Bill's adventures with the freakshow for a few more hundred pages. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it highly, though it's obviously not for all tastes.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Hard to pin down, but interesting. Sept. 22 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book is really odd. I gave it a rating of 4 stars, but I can't decide if that's really the best rating. I can't really say it has a good beat and I can dance to it, so I give it an 86; no, I have to say that it is so far outside the bounds of nearly anything I've ever read that I cannot easily classify it.
The story revolves around Bill Roberts (a name that almost screams average guy) who is a middle-aged loser who used to live off the his mother's meager pension checks. Well, that's no more because good old mom is dead and Bill can't forge her signature to save his life. So he cooks up a scheme to rob a firecracker stand. That's right, a firecracker stand. Go figure. Naturally, the robbery goes terribly wrong and people get killed. A strangely hilarious chase through a Texas swamp ensues whereby more people die in bizarre manners.
Bill ends up being nearly eaten alive by misquotoes, which makes him look freakish, and by coincidence happens to be rescued from the swamp by the owner of a traveling freak show. (Do these things really exist anymore?) He discovers that he looks like a freak with his puffed out face, and discoveres the mysterious focus of the freak show called the Ice Man, that may be a Neandertal, or Elvis, or perhaps something even more sacred. Eventually Bill's face clears and in waltzes the deadliest femme fatale imaginable: Gidget, the freak show owner's wife. Anyone who has ever read James M. Cain will see through her like an hungry man sees food through Saran wrap -- which incidentally is a simile similar to ones used by Lansdale who drops them like firebombs on Dresden.
The sex is violent, the language is strong and there are no heroes, which is interesting since Bill reads westerns almost exclusively, where good and bad are black and white.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars JUST WHO ARE THE FREAKS?
Joe Lansdale is a marvelous writer; I have enjoyed most of the books I've read of his. FREEZER BURN is certainly full of Lansdale's trademark humor and unusual scenarios, but... Read more
Published on May 4 2004 by Michael Butts
5.0 out of 5 stars Back to Adam and Eve
I recommend this book, yet give it a mixed review. On the one hand, I found the character of Conrad one of the most compelling I've ever come across in literature--wonderful and... Read more
Published on Oct. 17 2000 by Sammy Jackson 14/88
1.0 out of 5 stars Major disappointment
Although I have enjoyed Lansdale's Hap and Leonard series, five books in a row was a bit much. I was excited to see Freezer Burn available, a new and original Lansdale story, and... Read more
Published on Oct. 15 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Lansdale asatisfies once again!
FREEZER BURN shows us Bill Roberts and his 2 friends organizing a little robbery of a fireworks display. Read more
Published on May 22 2000 by Paul Legerski
2.0 out of 5 stars Jim Thompson did it better.
I've grown tired of Lansdale's Hap & Leonard books. So I was happy to see FREEZER BURN appear. At least it isn't Hap & Leonard. Read more
Published on April 20 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my Favorite Lansdale Books
I'm sorry that a lot of folks have not liked this book, but I have to respectfully disagree. I've been reading Joe for twelve years, and to me "Freezer Burn" harkens... Read more
Published on March 19 2000 by D. Read
2.0 out of 5 stars say it ain't so,joe!
I"m afraid that I have to join the chorus of mostly negative reviews here.I say that reluctantly,because I am a BIG Joe R.Lansdale fan. Read more
Published on Feb. 26 2000
2.0 out of 5 stars You've read this book before...
First, you have read this book before, assuming you have ever read a noir, or seen a film since 1950, or even stayed awake while friends have talked about films or novels... Read more
Published on Jan. 20 2000 by lbangs
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesnt blow your socks off.
Being a Lansdale fan, I have to say that anyone who likes his previous novels should enjoy his latest offering, but for those people who dont know of him and feel they would like... Read more
Published on Jan. 18 2000 by Kindle Customer
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